Saturday, July 10, 2010


So, I've been trying to catch up on good ol' Stephen King's work, which is no small feat. His seemingly endless numbers of tomes assault my eyes and my imagination. But until now, I haven't read one of the modern master's greatest achievements: what is perhaps the longest horror novel ever written. I am speaking, of course, about IT, the book which has inspired a chilling fear of clowns in millions of Constant Readers.

So, to quote another famous frightening clown, here... we... GO!

IT is a book of immense scope and simultaneously a book of intimately personal character studies. I have rarely if ever read a novel with characters so well-developed, and each one sticks out in my mind, long after I have read the final page.

I can tell you all about Stanley Uris, who had perhaps the greatest grasp of all of what he and his childhood friends were fighting.

I can give you a wealth of information about Mike Hanlon, the only one who was willing to stay in his hometown haunt of Derry, if only to give the signal to his comrades to return.

I can get off a good one about Richie Tozier, whose myriad of voices could keep a terror at bay, but who is struggling to find his own.

I can delve into the childhood of Beverly Rogan, who traded one set of demons for another, but whose love may be the key to saving them all.

I can spin many a tale about Eddie Hapsbrack, whose hypochondriac mother's influence lingers decades after leaving the house.

I can talk about the transformations gone through by Ben Hanscom, who has built both spectacular skyscrapers and an inpenetrable wall of will.

And I can explain the workings of the mind of Bill Denbrough, a writer and leader, whose stutter cannot mask a strength of character within that no force of darkness can easily overcome.

This review wasn't meant to be long; in fact, it seems as if the lengths of my reviews are inversely proportional to the lengths of the books which they are about. But that's okay. IT has been around for twenty-five years, and on this auspicious anniversary, I can say wholeheartedly that it still holds up, and that it is perhaps the best of its kind. This book gave me chills repeatedly, but not by cheap methods. Stephen King is a master storyteller because he earns the scares, because the terror comes from within the darkest places in our consciousness. You can feel the characters, and because of this, you can feel all the fear that King has intended. IT is a book written with great intentions, pulled off by the sheer tour-de-force that is Stephen King's writing. A masterpiece.

My rating: 10/10

Coming Soon: A Lord of the Rings film retrospective.


David Wagner said...

Loved the book in high school (read it twice back then). Oddly, what lingers in my memory now, these two decades later, is what bothered my most about the book. What the female character let's them all do to her at the end, to help them find their way out of the sewers? What was that all about? When the final form of the IT was revealed? Kind of cliche and anticlimactic, don't you think?

But overall, I have very fond memories of the journey through that book. I remember thinking for years what an amazing, multi-film horror epic it would have been... and then that abominable TV version of it came out. What a disaster that was...

I recently re-read The Talisman - another King book I read in high school and remembered fondly. I was stunned by how disappointing and grueling I found the book when I re-read it. Nothing like I remembered it. I was crest-fallen. I bring that up to say that the experience re-reading The Talisman has tempered my desire to re-read other King novels, such as IT. I'd rather hold onto my faded, fond memories of IT than re-read it and likewise be bummed.

Favorite all-time King novel was The Running Man, actually. I read somewhere that King said he wrote it in about 4 weeks, and was so high on coke he barely remembers writing it... lol.

The Writer said...

King's weakest points have always been his endings, as he is a SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) writer. He takes an idea and runs with it. The rating is for the overall effect of the book, which is of very high quality in my opinion, with extremely well-drawn characters.

I have yet to read The Talisman, so I can only hope my initial read is more rewarding than your re-read was. And I love The Running Man. Read it in less than a day, and ignored the movie version afterwards.